‘If you want the truth, you must go to its source. The truth is in the past. Come to Nairobi.’
Title: Nairobi Heat
Author: Mukoma wa Ngūgì
Genre: Fiction, thriller
My rate on GR: 4/5
Book cover credit: Prestige bookshop
Humid, thick and salty to taste was Nairobi heat for Detective Ishmael who never dreamt of bringing his black ass to Africa till a young blonde woman was found murdered on the doorstep of a black man back in US. Joshua Hakizimana, a lecturer of Testimony and Genocide whose background was from Rwanda and Kenya was his main suspect. However, he was a hero in both countries. A hero who according to many rescued Rwanda genocide victims unknown to many he helped execute most of them. The underground railroad. “The school was the honey, and we were the ants. Only a handful of us, left for dead, survived.”
His journey to the city under the sun is welcomed by Detective O (Odhiambo) where each tail leads them to more discoveries, murder, rescue, deception and the heat puts them in danger. “Facts and truth get lost in hate.” Mukoma wows a reader with thrilling action that would make a great Oscar award movie. He brings to light anarchy where life is cheap and the rich and the criminals can buy a whole lot of it.
Cutting weed from garden reveals genocide victims who are paid to shut up about Joshua. Moreover, institutions meant for the vulnerable swindle money that end up with corrupt officials thanks to letters, documents from the Refugee Centre and a logbook with hundreds of names in it. This is Kenya in the present. Poems, songs are used symbolically and Muddy’s interests me more.
“When they cut down my roots they will find the blood of many, of friends, of lovers, of family and of enemies. Here children learn to grow into the earth and breastfeed themselves, and like death or life, my enemies feed on many cutting them down like sugar cane or weeds…”
The equation leads Ishmael back to the States. The criminal he is looking for was there in the first place. The beast should not walk the earth no more. On the other hand, the beast is cunning, manipulates people and gets away with murder by playing pawn. He walks free after his enemies are eliminated, after his companies go under but like a greedy hyena who wants more Ishmael pieces the puzzle after the case is closed.
What happens to justice deferred? What happens to love deffered? The African connection to Macy Jane the blonde girl makes Ishmael hire KKK goons who go after Joshua. He also leaves US at the height of his career for another beginning in that same Africa he left.
“Only what you do when you meet the Joshuas of this earth matters. Everything else- what you could have done, what some prosecutor or attorney says-is details.”
I have never smiled so big and danced when I was done with this book.